Child health expert earns top award

Prof Barry Taylor, a leading University of Otago specialist in paediatrics and child health, has received a top national career achievement award.

The Montgomery Spencer Memorial Oration is awarded by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and recognises a New Zealand paediatrician's contribution to child health.

Only one of the awards is made every year.

The award honoured lifetime achievement, and was considered the top honour of its kind in New Zealand paediatric circles, university officials said.

Prof Taylor heads the department of women's and children's health at the university's Dunedin School of Medicine and is a former president of the Paediatric Society of New Zealand.

He will give the memorial oration at the society's annual scientific meeting in Hamilton later this month.

Previous award recipients were continuing their medical research and he intended to pursue his child health work for many more years, he said in an interview.

Prof Taylor was previously one of three principal investigators of the New Zealand Cot Death Study.

This was one of the first major scientific investigations in the world to influence the care of all babies at risk of cot death, also known as sudden infant death syndrome.

The study's most significant finding, published in 1989, was that babies should not be put to sleep on their stomachs.

New Zealand cot deaths declined dramatically since this recommendation was implemented nationally in 1991, with Otago cot deaths falling from an average of 13-14 a year to one to two each year.

Prof Taylor is now playing a leading role in another innovative study to identify risk factors for childhood obesity.


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